HomeTECHNOLOGYLi ion vs Li polymer: What’s the difference?

Li ion vs Li polymer: What’s the difference? [Updated]

Li ion vs li polymer! The limitless debate on batteries among modern users. Today, I,m going to talk about the differences between these battery types.

Li-ion battery technology is the first choice for smartphones and a wide range of other portable gadgets too. However, modern smartphones now commonly feature li-polymer batteries, an alternative for a wide variety of electronic gadgets. This certainly isn’t a fact to overlook, given li-ion occasional run-in with overheating problems.

Think about battery safety and longevity high on customers’ priority, it’s good to know the pros and cons of these two battery technologies. Here’s everything you need to know about Li ion vs Li polymer batteries.

How do li-ion batteries work?

A rechargeable lithium-ion battery is manufactured with one or more power-generating sections which are called cells. Each cell has basically three components: a positive electrode (connected to the battery’s positive terminal), a negative electrode (connected to the negative terminal), and a chemical called an electrolyte in between them. The positive electrode is typically made from a chemical compound called lithium-cobalt oxide (LiCoO2) or, in newer batteries, from lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4). The negative electrode is generally made from carbon (graphite) and the electrolyte depends on the type of battery.

All Li-ion batteries work in broadly the same way. When the battery is charging up, the lithium-cobalt oxide, positive electrode gives up some of its lithium ions, which move through the electrolyte to the negative, graphite electrode and remain there. The battery takes in and stores energy during this process. When the battery is discharging, the lithium ions move back across the electrolyte to the positive electrode, producing the energy that runs the battery. In both cases, electrons flow in the opposite direction to the ions around the outer circuit. Electrons do not flow through the electrolyte: it’s effectively an insulating barrier, so far as electrons are concerned.

The movement of ions (through the electrolyte) and electrons (around the external circuit, in the opposite direction) are interconnected processes, and if either stops so does the other. If ions stop moving through the electrolyte because the battery completely discharges, electrons can’t move through the outer circuit either—so you lose your power. Similarly, if you switch off whatever the battery is powering, the flow of electrons stops and so does the flow of ions. The battery essentially stops discharging at a high rate (but it does keep on discharging, at a very slow rate, even with the appliance disconnected).

Unlike simpler batteries, lithium-ion ones have built-in electronic controllers that regulate how they charge and discharge. They prevent the overcharging and overheating that can cause lithium-ion batteries to explode in some circumstances.

Li ion vs Li polymer: What’s the difference?

How do li-polymer batteries work?

A Li-polymer battery, or more correctly lithium-ion polymer battery is a rechargeable battery of lithium-ion technology using a polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid electrolyte. High conductivity semisolid (gel) polymers form this electrolyte. These batteries provide higher specific energy than other lithium battery types and are used in applications where weight is a critical feature, like mobile devices and radio-controlled aircraft.

Just as with other lithium-ion cells, lithium-polymer works on the principle of intercalation and de-intercalation of lithium ions from a positive electrode material and a negative electrode material, with the liquid electrolyte providing a conductive medium. To prevent the electrodes from touching each other directly, a microporous separator is in between which allows only the ions and not the electrode particles to migrate from one side to the other.

Li ion vs Li polymer: What’s the difference?

Li ion vs Li polymer: What’s the difference?

A lithium-ion battery is a rechargeable battery format that first grew in popularity thanks to its adoption by major electronics companies in the early 1990s. They are essentially a group of very rigid electricity-generating compartments, which consists of three pieces: a positive electrode; a negative electrode; and an electrolyte, or liquid chemical compound between them. Most lithium-ion batteries, unlike more traditional ones, also include an electronic controller, which regulates power and discharge flows so your battery doesn’t overheat or explode.

The most significant difference between lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries is the chemical electrolyte between their positive and negative electrodes. In Li-Po batteries, it isn’t a liquid. Instead, Li-Po technology uses one of three forms: a dry solid, which was largely phased out during the prototype years of lithium polymer batteries; a porous chemical compound; or, a gel-like electrolyte. The most popular among these is the last one, which is the type of battery you’ll find in newer laptop computers and electric cars. The catch is that plenty of companies are not actually selling you a true Li-Polymer battery, instead, it’s a lithium-ion polymer battery or a Li-ion in a more flexible casing.

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